Trump dishes up fresh dose of chaos aimed at May, Londoners

By JONATHAN LEMIRE and JILL COLVIN
BLENHEIM PALACE, England (AP) — Dishing up a fresh dose of chaos on his European tour, President Donald Trump left behind a contentious NATO gathering in Brussels and moved on to Britain, where a pomp-filled welcome ceremony was soon overshadowed by an interview in which Trump blasted Prime Minister Theresa May, blamed London’s mayor for terror attacks against the city and argued that Europe was “losing its culture” because of immigration. Trump, in an interview with The Sun newspaper, said he felt unwelcome in London because of protests, including plans to fly a giant balloon over Parliament on Friday that depicts him as an angry baby in a diaper. “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he said.

Trump, in the interview given before he left Brussels for the U.K., accused May of ruining what her country stands to gain from the Brexit vote to leave the European Union. He said her former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, would make an “excellent” prime minister, speaking just days after Johnson resigned his position in protest over May’s Brexit plans.Trump added that May’s “soft” blueprint for the U.K.’s future dealings with the EU would probably “kill” any future trade deals with the United States. President Trump says the US commitment to NATO is very strong and that other nations are increasing their financial contributions. (July 12) “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the U.K., so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump told the paper.Trump, who has compared his own election to the June 2016 referendum in which a majority of British voters supported leaving the EU, complained, “The deal she is striking is a much different deal than the one the people voted on.” He also told the tabloid that he’d shared advice with May during Britain’s negotiations with the EU and she ignored it. As for Johnson, Trump said: “I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes.” He added, “I think he is a great representative for your country. The mood was far less jovial in Belgium earlier in the day. During his 28 hours there, Trump had disparaged longtime NATO allies, cast doubt on his commitment to the mutual-defense organization and sent the 29-member pact into a frenzied emergency session.

Then, in a head-snapping pivot at the end, he declared the alliance a “fine-tuned machine” that had acceded to his demands to speed up increases in military spending to relieve pressure on the U.S. budget. But there was little evidence other leaders had bowed to his wishes on that front.

Trump claimed member nations had agreed to boost their defense budgets significantly and reaffirmed — after days of griping that the U.S. was being taken advantage of by its allies — that the U.S. remains faithful to the accord.

Neither Trump nor NATO offered specifics on what Trump said he had achieved. French President Emmanuel Macron quickly disputed Trump’s claim that NATO allies had agreed to boost defense spending beyond their existing goal of 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024.

“There is a communique that was published yesterday; it’s very detailed,” Macron said. “It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024. That’s all.”